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Death Through Parenting: How a Parent Passes on Fatal Patterns

By lmarsh434 Mar 02, 2014 2006 Words
Fiction Essay: Death Through Parenting: How a Parent Passes on Fatal Patterns ENGL 102: Composition and Literature
Writing Style Used: MLA

ENGL 102 B30
27 January 2014
Death Through Parenting: How a Parent Passes on Fatal Patterns Thesis Statement: The two stories, “The Rocking Horse Winner” by Shirley Jackson and “The Lottery” by D.H. Lawrence reveal that parents and other family members have a great influence on the moral development of the children in their lives: a person’s value is controlled by external factors rather than in who they are, and one’s own good is more important than the good of another.

Death Through Parenting: How a Parent Passes on Fatal Patterns I.Thesis Statement: The two stories, “The Rocking Horse Winner” by Shirley Jackson and “The Lottery” by D.H. Lawrence reveal that parents and other family members have a great influence on the emotional and moral development of the children in their lives: a person’s value is controlled by external factors rather than in who they are, and one’s own good is more important than the good of another. A.Both stories have child characters that are influenced by parents who are emotionally damaged and functioning in a way that brings harm to themselves and to their children. B.The children act out in ways that reveal the damage they have inherited. II.In "The Rocking Horse Winner" Paul’s parents are emotionally damaged. A.Paul’s mother is emotionally damaged which caused her to not be able to love. 1.She has many advantages having beauty and talent, love when she married, and bonny children. 2.Somehow she felts a lack in herself and that her children do not like her. 3.She “felt she must cover up some fault in herself. Yet what it was that she must cover up she never knew…at the center of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody.” (5) 4.Paul’s father and mother have expensive tastes and place value on keeping up an appearance of wealth even though that is not the true situation in their home. III.The parents of the children in "The Lottery" are also emotionally damaged. A.Bobby Martin's parents gather with their friends, joke and gossip, as they watch their children prepare to participate in murder. They do not appear to see any wrong with the eminent loss of life of one of their friends, or even someone in their own family. B.Mr. Martin has his son help him hold the black box steady as Mr. Summers stirs the slips of paper inside, facilitating the selection of the murder victim. C.Mrs. Dunbar expresses disappointment that her son could not draw for an ailing father, "Horace's not but sixteen yet," Mrs. Dunbar said regretfully. "Guess I gotta fill in for the old man this year." It appears she regrets that he would not be able to participate in the lottery, the opportunity to become the victim of murder. IV.In "The Rocking Horse Winner" we see how Paul's mother's damaged emotional state influences him. He feels he has no worth in her eyes if he can not become "lucky" so begins a desperate attempt at chasing after wealth by riding his rocking horse. A.He sees that she distains his father for not being able to earn enough money, and this is the cause of her unhappiness, and the reason she can not love him. B.He felts his value can be proven if he earns enough money. C.His mother and father's emotionally damaged perspective on money and happiness causes Paul to have this warped view and the attempt to find a solution to the problem causing the pain. V.The unlucky "winner" of the lottery had a worth that is also determined by an outside factor other than his personhood. A.This factor is the selection of the paper that has the black dot in the middle. B. The winner immediately becomes less than a beloved family member, friend, and community member, but is now just the next one up in the yearly sacrifice lineup. C.The tradition of the lottery, passed from generation to generation, from parent to child, has taught the children of each generation that people are expendable and they have no real worth or value other than being the one who will keep you from being selected. VI.The parents of both stories are teaching their children by example to put their own needs above the needs of others. A.In Paul's story he see his mother withhold love and security because she does not feel like giving it. B.We also see Uncle Oscar, while watching the poor boy dying, run off to place a bet on the horse, Malabar, rather than stay with the boy and try and do something to save his life. C.Bill Hutchinson, of "The Lottery" (Lawrence) with his children watching, is the first to declare his wife, Tessie, the victim "winner" by holding up the black marked ticket. D.Even the youngest child of Tessie joins in, "The children had stones already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles." (75) The parents teach him young to disregard the personhood of his own mother, and that the important thing is the ritual, the tradition, rather than the person. VII.Conclusion: Parents and family members have a great influence on the moral and emotional development of the children of their lives. Those of us fortunate enough to have children in our lives need to take this opportunity and privilege very seriously. God has given us a great gift and we will answer to Him for how we lead these little ones through life and to Him.

Lorie Marsh
Professor Katie Robinson
ENGL 102 B30
3 February 2014
Death Through Parenting: How a Parent Passes on Fatal Patterns
Although a clear theme in "The Rocking Horse Winner" is that the love of money can bring about heartbreak, and in "The Lottery," that unchallenged tradition can bring about disastrous results, there is another theme that ties the two stories together. A careful examination of the stories reveals that the parents in these stories have an integral influence on the warped moral development of the children which is based on the parent's own brokenness: a person’s value is established by external factors rather than in an inherent value and this creates a negative impact on the family and community.

Both stories have child characters that are influenced by parents who are emotionally damaged and functioning in a way that brings harm to themselves and to their family. The children act out in ways that reveal the damage they have inherited. In "The Rocking Horse Winner," Paul’s mother is unable to love, feeling that "She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them" (Lawrence 1). In the story, things start out well for her with her beauty and talent and the love of her young marriage and fine children, yet somehow she feels a lack in herself and feels her children do not like her. She “felt she must cover up some fault in herself. Yet what it was that she must cover up she never knew…at the center of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody” (1). She seems to connect her unhappiness with not having enough money, "Although they lived in style, they felt always an anxiety in the house. There was never enough money" (3). This anxiety appears to take on a voice of its own and is felt and heard by all in the house, especially her son, Paul.

The parents in "The Lottery" are also emotionally damaged. Bobby Martin's parents gather with their friends and joke and gossip as they watch their children prepare to participate in the murder of the lottery winner. The parents do not appear to see any wrong in the eminent loss of life of one of their friends or family members. Mr. Martin has his son help him hold the black box steady as Mr. Summers stirs the slips of paper inside, facilitating the selection of the murder victim. Mrs. Dunbar expresses disappointment that her son cannot draw for an ailing father, because "Horace's not but sixteen yet," (Jackson 12). It appears she regrets that he is not old enough to be able to participate in the lottery, thus have the opportunity to become the victim of murder or at least a voting member of the jury and executioner of another from the community. Instead of the natural motherly instinct to protect her child from potential danger, she is so damaged by her own participation in past lotteries that she has lost sight of the horror of the annual event and the potential danger or damage to her own child.

In "The Rocking Horse Winner" Paul's mother's damaged emotional state influences him as well. He feels he has no worth in her eyes if he cannot become "lucky," so he begins a desperate and futile attempt at chasing after wealth on the back of his nursery rocking horse. He sees his mother distain his father for not being able to earn enough money to satisfy the yearning within her. He feels his own value can be proven if he earns enough money to satisfy the need in his mother. His mother and father's emotionally damaged perspective on money and happiness causes Paul to have this warped view of life, love and happiness. The fundamental elements of a loving home where a child is valued and cherished are lost to him, yet sought after in his futile and fatal attempt to find a solution to the problem causing the pain. The unlucky "winner" of the lottery has a worth that is also determined by a factor other than his personhood. This factor is the selection of the paper that has the black dot in the middle. The winner immediately becomes less than a beloved family member, friend, and community member, and is now just the next one up in the yearly sacrifice lineup. The tradition of the lottery, passed from generation to generation, from community to community, from parent to child, teaches the children of each generation that people are expendable. This tradition communicates that a person's highest or lowest value is found only in whether or not they hold the damning dotted paper.

By example, the parents of both stories are teaching their children to put their own needs above the needs of others. In Paul's story his mother withholds love and security because she does not feel like giving it. Her self-absorption overcomes a maternal instinct to give love to a child. Bill Hutchinson, of "The Lottery," with his children watching, is the first to declare his wife, Tessie, the victim "winner" by holding up the black marked ticket. His own need to live overcomes a natural compassion for another human being, and in this case, his wife. Even the youngest child of Tessie joins in, "The children had stones already, and someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles" (75). The parents teach him young to disregard the personhood of his own mother, and that the important thing is the ritual, the tradition, rather than the person.

Parents and family members have an influence on the moral and emotional development of the children who are entrusted to them. These children are unable to function outside of the influence of their parents broken moral system. This influence has an impact on the family and on the community at large. In the case of these two stories the parents passing on of their own brokenness is what creates the tragic circumstances of each story.

Work Cited
Kennedy, X.J. and Dana Gioia. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2013. Print. Jackson, Shirley. "The Lottery." Kennedy 250-56.

Lawrence, D.H. "The Rocking Horse Winner." Kennedy 234-45.

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